Based on a memoir by former undercover cop Joe Pistone (whose daring and unprecedented infiltration of the New York Mob scene earned him a place in the federal witness protection program), Donnie Brasco is like a de-romanticized, de-mythologized version of The Godfather. It offers an uncommonly detailed, privileged glimpse inside the world of organized crime from the perspective of the little guys at the bottom of Mafia hierarchy rather than from the kingpins at the top. Donnie Brasco is not only one of the great modern-day gangster movies to put in the company of The Godfather films and GoodFellas, but it is also one of the great undercover police movies--arguably surpassing Serpico and Prince of the City in richness of character, detail, and moral complexity. Donnie (Johnny Depp, a splendid actor) is practically adopted by Lefty Ruggiero (Al Pacino), a gregarious, low-level "made" man who grows to love his young protégé like a son. (Pacino really sinks into this guy's skin and polyester slacks, and creates his freshest, most fully realized character since his 1970s heyday.) As Donnie acclimates himself to Lefty's world, he distances himself from his wife (a terrific Anne Heche) and family for their own protection. Almost imperceptibly his sense of identity slips away from him. Questioning his own confused loyalties, unable to trust anybody else because he himself is an imposter, Donnie loses his way in a murky and treacherous no-man's land. The film is directed by Mike Newell, who also headed up Four Weddings and a Funeral and the gritty, true crime melodrama Dance with a Stranger. --Jim Emerson
Top Customer Reviews
This is an intricate character study, not a film full of flying bullets and cheesy bravado. Depp and Al Pacino both give Oscar worthy efforts as you see the fondness develop between their characters over the course of the story making the inevitable ending that much tougher for Pistone to deal with.
But DB gets so involved that he does not know on which side he is, that is what loyalty does to him. Even his marriage is almost falling apart.
Depp and Pacino are of course brilliant as ever and this is another great maffia movie like Goodfellas are the Godfather.
Pistone and Richard Woodley,chronicling undercover FBI agent Pistone
and his life as "Donnie Brasco".Brasco/Pistone infiltrates the New York
mafia,and befriends "Lefty Ruggiero",(Al Pacino)becoming close to him
in time.Donnie collects information for the FBI,and over time his mob
persona begins to assert itself.as a result,his family life falls apart
and Donnie faces a moral dilemma,which i won't go into here.Johhny Depp plays
Brasco/Pistone and delivers a very compelling performance.Pacino plays
"Lefty" and is equally believable.this is the 2nd gangster movie i have
seen,(Casino being the first,and lesser of the 2)and i must say,i am
impressed.Anne Heche plays Maggie Pistone and does very well as the
wife who sees her husband less often than the mobsters.her role is not
that large,but is important to the movie.others in the film include
James woods, Michael Madsen, Bruno Kirby, and the great(but very
underrated) actress Gretchen Mol has a small role. all deliver
excellent performances.but it is Depp's performance as Brasco that
anchors this movie.his performance is what sells the story. "Donnie
Brasco" gets a strong 4.5/5
It is a chilling and moving performance. Children should not see this movie. The language and violance reflect the true lives of the NY mob.
Most recent customer reviews
Excellent and suspenseful movie. I truly enjoyed it. The fact that it is a true story added to the enjoyment.Published 16 months ago by Karen